The Loire Valley is a natural destination for a Martin Randall Festival.
An abundance of staggeringly beautiful châteaux, glorious gardens and gently rolling agricultural landscapes, major medieval churches and alluringly pretty towns and villages. The charms of riverine scenery are pervasive, not only the mighty meandering River Loire itself, sluggish in its lower reaches (and unnavigable – this is a land-based festival) but also its many lovely tributaries.
Music from the Renaissance to the Romantic.
Into this idyllic ambience we are inserting appropriate classical music performed by outstanding artists. There are concerts in the châteaux at Blois, Chambord and Chenonceaux, three of the finest Renaissance buildings in France, with music chosen to echo the entertainments of the royal patrons of these palaces. Another is in the orangery at Villandry, one of the most famous gardens in the world, which we will fill with joyous instrumental music of the 18th century.
Nine private concerts in beautiful and appropriate historic buildings and châteaux.
Two Gothic churches – both masterpieces though very different – host two a cappella performances of sublime beauty and spirituality. Within Tours, we hear Charpentier and Bouzignac in the Neo-Baroque town hall, and a full-scale Baroque opera (unstaged), Rameau’s Castor et Pollux, in the splendid 19th-century Grand Theatre. And there’s a quartet concert with Saint-Saëns and Mozart in a Louis XV-style drawing room.
Musicians of the highest calibre from Britain and France.
We have engaged some of the finest artists and ensembles working with the repertoire for this festival, a number of them resident in the Loire region.
For Renaissance music there are the blisteringly brilliant Ensemble Clément Janequin led by Dominique Visée, and I Fagiolini, the inimitable British group directed by Robert Hollingworth. Gothic Voices and Contrapunctus, directed by Owen Rees, are two more outstanding British ensembles, the latter performing twice.
Les Pléiades and Les Musiciens de Saint Julien with virtuoso flautist François Lazarevitch bolster the French contingent, while the Early Opera Company under Christian Curnyn bring their dominance of Baroque opera in Britain to the Loire, with a spectacular line-up of soloists including Samuel Boden, Jonathan McGovern, Mary Bevan and Edward Grint.
Access to the nine concerts is exclusive to the 180 participants who take a package, which includes accommodation, meals, interval drinks, travel by train, lectures and much else besides. The small size of the audience and of most of the venues leads to an informality and intimacy which engenders a rare intensity of musical communication.
Discover the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is a paradigm of north-western European culture, as central to the identity of France as Tuscany is to Italy.
Although the river itself rises in the Auvergne, it is the area below Orléans for which it is most celebrated – and particularly that bucolic passage between Blois and Saumur, where the river swells with the waters of the Cher, Indre and Vienne.
Fertile, well-wooded, and endowed with plentiful building stone, the lower Loire was recognised as ideal for settlement by Romans and Franks alike. Its subsequent development as the seat of feudal powers and refuge for a displaced French monarchy has left it with a remarkable residue of great houses – the fabled châteaux de la Loire.
If one were to choose a single county to represent this, it would be the Touraine – and accordingly the festival’s concerts are largely located here. The audience based in hotels in Tours. The city has the density and mercantile power to have created a culture distinct from that of the feudal estates, giving rise to major architectural statements, as in the largely 13th-century cathedral or Victor Laloux’s joyous 19th-century Hôtel de Ville.
But it is the châteaux which are the area’s greatest distinction, particularly the palatial creations of the Renaissance. Borne out of urban courtyard castles of the later middle ages, as survive at Blois, the new residences were based on single blocks or open wings to give views over gardens and water, and adorned with beautifully intricate Italianate carving. As a model of aristocratic living they reign supreme.
Meet the musicians
For more than 30 years Gothic Voices has been renowned for the excellence, refinement and beauty of its performances of medieval music, promoting previously unfamiliar music – predominantly from the 11th to 15th centuries – to audiences all over the world.
Their ground-breaking recording of the music of Hildegard von Bingen, A Feather on the Breath of God, remains one of the best-selling recordings of pre-classical music ever made. It forms part of an award-winning discography of more than 20 CDs, three of which have won the coveted Gramophone Early Music Award. Their most recent disc for Linn Records, The Dufay Spectacle, has received great praise from the critics: ‘magnificently transporting us to their 15th-century sound world’ (Gramophone)
The ensemble has toured widely in Europe, Scandinavia, Israel, North and South America to great acclaim. Recent highlights include a tour of Spain, BRQ Vantaa, Three Choirs, and Norfolk and Norwich Festivals and the closing concert of Laus Polyphoniae festival.
Described as ‘superb’ (Observer), ‘impeccable’ (Sunday Times) and ‘immaculate’ (Gramophone), Contrapunctus gives passionately committed performances which communicate to audiences the expressive power of Renaissance and Baroque music. Under Owen Rees’s direction, the ensemble’s work represents the fruits of path-breaking scholarship, presenting music by the best known composers as well as unfamiliar masterpieces. The first two recordings by Contrapunctus were both nominated for Gramophone awards. The group’s commitment to educational work is reflected in its position as Vocal Consort in Residence at the University of Oxford.
Owen Rees is both an acclaimed choral director and an internationally recognised scholar of Renaissance music. He is founder and director of Contrapunctus. His academic posts are as Professor in Music at the University of Oxford and Fellow of The Queen’s College, where he also directs the Choir.
Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien
Inspired by the conviction of their
founder, François Lazarevitch, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien have been evolving since 2006. Their shared affinities with traditional repertoires and musicians enriched their earliest projects and echoed a scholarly archipelago of early and Baroque music. Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien awaken slumbering musical collections with an erudite and intuitive approach rooted in folk practices, and filtered through a demanding, virtuosic and passionate appropriation.
In the course of tours in France, Europe and America, and multiple recordings on the Alpha Classics label (most recently Purcell, Songs & Dances in October 2018), Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien have a strong presence on the French and international scenes. They are in residency at the Festival de Lanvellec 2018–20.
Primarily a flautist, François Lazarevitch also conducts pioneering research on the diversity of sources, both oral and written, which he deems necessary for recreating early and Baroque repertoire. As Artistic Director of Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, he conducts internationally and collaborates with other musicians, dancers, choreographers, directors and composers. He is a passionate instrument collector and teaches Baroque flute and musette at the Conservatoire de Versailles.
The Tchalik Quartet has the unique idiosyncrasy of being composed of four brothers and sisters. Born into a French-Russian family where music holds a central place, they have played together from an early age. This immersion in chamber music has enabled them to develop a close, natural harmony and sensitivity, which is apparent in their music. Qualities recognised at the first international competition in which they played, the siblings were awarded First Prize and a Special Prize for the best interpretation of a Mozart quartet at the International Mozart Competition 2018 in Salzburg.
The Quartet has developed a fine repertoire of classical and romantic music. They play regularly at prestigious venues in France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Russia.
Ensemble Clément Janequin
The Ensemble Clément Janequin’s inimitable performances of the 16th-century French chanson have revealed what is now appreciated to be one of the golden ages in the history of French music. The chansons of Janequin, Sermizy, Lassus, Lejeune and numerous others abound in the stylistic contrasts so dear to the Renaissance: the touching lyricism of the chanson amoureuse, the earthy humour of the chanson rustique that draws upon popular farce, the sounds of war, nature and street cries – a unique marriage of popular and high Renaissance culture.
Founded in 2011, the all-female Les Pléiades formed their group to promote string sextet repertoire. All members of the Orchestre Les Siècles under François-Xavier Roth, they propose a veritable voyage in time, giving a particular sense to the sonority of each age. In playing instruments historically appropriate to each repertoire, they are able to offer an ever-changing sense of the identity of the sextet genre.
They have performed widely across France and Belgium at venues including the Musée d’Orsay and the Cité de la Musique de Soissons.
One of the most appreciated mezzo-sopranos of her generation, in 2018–19 Isabelle Druet is reunited with the title role of Carmen at the Opéra de Saint-Etienne. She also sings at the Opéra de Paris and the Opéra de Nice while continuing her collaboration with conductor François-Xavier Roth in several concerts on tour with Les Siècles, and with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Early Opera Company
Founded by its current Artistic Director Christian Curnyn, Early Opera Company’s vision is to celebrate Baroque music in ways that delight and inspire audiences. The ensemble collaborate with world-class partners, inspire audiences with outstanding productions, recordings and broadcasts of Baroque opera and early music, and invest in the professional development of the next generation of Baroque-specialist musicians.
EOC is proud to work closely with the Royal Opera and has performed Handel’s Solomon at Covent Garden. It has a strong reputation for performances of Handel operas, and regularly features music of the French Baroque.
Christian Curnyn is widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading conductors specialising in the Baroque and Classical repertoire. He founded Early Opera Company in 1994 and the last 24 years have seen notable performances throughout the UK, along with award-winning recordings.
He has conducted for English National Opera, and has appeared at Scottish Opera (Handel’s Semele), Opera North (Handel’s Saul), Grange Park Opera (Semele and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro) and with numerous productions at the Royal Opera House.
Samuel Boden studied with John Wakefield at Trinity Laban Conservatoire and has performed with such ensembles as Gabrieli and The Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Operatic engagements include Charpentier’s Actéon for Opéra de Dijon and Opéra de Lille, and Rameau’s Castor with the Early Opera Company.
British baritone Jonathan McGovern is an exciting talent. Recent operatic debuts include performances at the Staatsoper Hamburg, Komische Oper Berlin and Teatro Arriaga, Bilbao. A gifted recitalist, he has sung at the Concertgebouw under Christian Curnyn and performed with pianists such as Malcolm Martineau and Graham Johnson.
Praised by Opera for her ‘dramatic wit and vocal control’ in stand out performances on opera and concert platforms, Mary Bevan is a winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist award and UK Critic’s Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent in music. She trained at the Royal Academy Opera
and is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
British bass-baritone Edward Grint was a choral scholar at King’s College Cambridge, and went on to study at the International Benjamin Britten Opera School at the Royal College of Music. He was a finalist in the 2014 London Handel Competition, and won the Clermont Ferrand competition in France.
Grounded in the classics of Renaissance and 20th-century vocal repertoire, I Fagiolini is renowned for its innovative and often staged productions. From Handel with masks or Purcell with puppets, to fully dramatised works, the group has performed at major venues around the world. I Fagiolini’s latest recordings – Monteverdi: The Other Vespers and Amuse-Bouche (French Choral Delicacies) – were both shortlisted for Gramophone awards, and the group is an Associate Ensemble at the University of York. Their next album Leonardo – Shaping the Invisible was released in April 2019.
Robert Hollingworth founded I Fagiolini in 1986 and is renowned for ground-breaking projects which present music in new ways. Under him, I Fagiolini has won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Ensemble Award, Gramophone awards and the Diapason D’Or de l’Annee. Away from I Fagiolini, Robert has directed many renowned orchestras and some of the world’s finest chamber choirs, including Accentus, Academy of Ancient Music, Nederlands Kamerkoor, VOCES8, BBC Singers and RIAS Kammerchor.
Day 1 Tuesday 7 July
Eurostar from London to Paris, or make your own way independently. Coach transfer to Tours. For travel options, see Practicalities.
To many a 19th-century English traveller, Touraine offered a vision of French art and culture that was not only exemplary, but unrivalled outside Paris – as central to the identity of France as Tuscany is to Italy. While this view has been modified by more recent commentators, who criticise relative stagnation of the region during the 17th and 18th centuries, it remains the case that Touraine was responsible for some of the most significant cultural initiatives to grace medieval and Renaissance Europe.
Settle into your chosen hotel before a drinks reception and dinner.
Day 2 Wednesday 8 July
Champigny-sur-Veude, Château du Rivau, Tours
The festival doesn’t get more remote and rural than on this, the first full day. Drive in the morning to Champigny-sur-Veude, a blameless little village from which erupts, with startling incongruity, the Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic chapel of the mid-16th-century that architecturally evokes the royal chapel in Paris of the same name built 300 years earlier. The stained glass here constitutes one of the lesser known wonders of France.
Champigny-sur-Veude, Sainte Chapelle
Gothic Voices – just four of them – bring us the devotional side of medieval music. Hildegard von Bingen’s phrase ‘a feather on the breath of God’ has been applied to their spiritual sound. They sing Dufay, estimated by the theorist Tinctoris in 1477 as a composer of ‘such sweetness’ that he was suitable for the ‘immortal Gods’.
Continue by coach to nearby Léméré and the charming Château du Rivau, where we eat lunch in the vast, timber-roofed barn. There is a short talk on the morning’s concert here as well as some time to visit the pleasant gardens, dotted with contemporary sculpture.
Return to Tours for a few hours free time before early evening lectures. Perhaps visit the superb, largely 13th-century cathedral, with its virtually complete programme of choir glass, and the Tour Charlemagne, a mournful relic of the mighty pilgrimage church of St-Martin. Dinner is included for everyone before the performance.
The Neo-Baroque Hôtel de Ville by Victor Laloux, architect also of the Gare d’Orsay in Paris transformed to house the museum of the same name, is the venue for the evening’s concert. Positioned commandingly on the handsome Place Jean Jaurès and the Rue Nationale, the town hall stands as a magnificent architectural testament to the 19th century.
Tours, Hôtel de Ville, Salles des Fêtes
French Baroque: Charpentier & Bouzignac
Owen Rees director
Ending with the heart-rending account of Peter’s denial of Christ, set by Antoine Charpentier, this concert explores the more intimate religious repertoire of the Grand Siècle. The textures, searing harmonies and dramatic projection of the music of the French Baroque are subtle and unique. The voices of Contrapunctus – well-known for their excellence through several appearances at our festivals – have a focus that engages the audience to every word they sing.
Day 3 Thursday 9 July
Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Tours
Leave by coach at c. 9.45am and drive to Villandry. Dating to the 1530s, the lovely château there was thoroughly restored last century and the rooms are well furnished and maintained. It remains a family home. The great glory of Villandry, however, and the source of its international fame, is the garden, which consists of terraces stacked up across the hillside planted in accordance with 16th-century designs and principles.
The concert takes place in the orangery, a vaulted cave off a private part of the garden that can accommodate only half the audience. The other half visits Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, a jewel of the French Renaissance, moated by the River Indre and replete with angle turrets, elaborate gables, classical ornamentation and evocative interiors. The audiences then swap and the concert is repeated.
Lunch is included for half the audience in Villandry after the morning concert, and for the other half in Azay-le-Rideau before the afternoon performance.
Concert, 11.30am or 4.15pm:
Château de Villandry, Orangery Vivaldi
Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien
François Lazarevitch flute
Vivaldi’s concertos are well known in their transcriptions by Bach. Less familiar are those made by French musicians. This concert is based on the adaptations by Nicolas Chédeville for musette – a sophisticated bagpipe popular in the French court. To Vivaldi’s original strings, recorders and flutes are added, adding an extra burst of colour to the orangery of this wonderful château.
Return by coach to Tours by 6.00pm. Dinner is independent, unless you choose to attend an optional dinner. The evening concert is held in a Gothic church in the centre of the city.
Tours, venue to be confirmed
Requiem for Desprez
Owen Rees director
Contrapunctus return with a concert of music of by Jean Richafort, written as a tribute to the great Josquin Desprez. The programme is designed to demonstrate the extraordinary variety of this composer: secular texts about nymphs will sit beside some of his deepest religious music.
Day 4 Friday 10 July
Château d’Artigny, Chenonceaux
Sited on a hill outside Montbazon, the Château d’Artigny is an extravagant confection in Louis Quinze style built at the beginning of the 20th century by a perfume manufacturer, who went bankrupt in the process. It is now a 5-star hotel, and we have lunch here. The drawing room is the perfect space for chamber music.
French-Russian born and France-based, the Quatuor Tchalik were winners of the Wigmore International String Quartet Competition in 2018. Beside Mozart’s classical Hunt quartet they explore lesser performed gems of the French repertoire: Reynaldo Hahn’s String Quartet (he was an esteemed singer and the lover of Marcel Proust) and one of Saint-Saëns’s rather-forgotten quartets.
Continue by coach to Chenonceaux. Of surpassing beauty and famously straddling the River Cher, the 16th-century Château de Chenonceau was the home successively of Diane des Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, respectively mistress and widow of Henry II.
We have a couple of hours here to explore the palace and the gardens before dinner in the château restaurant. This is followed by the concert in the long gallery that crosses the river.
Château de Chenonceau, Grand Galerie
Robert Hollingworth director
I Fagiolini are no strangers to our festivals. They sing here some of the programmatic chansons of Clément Janequin depicting such events as hunts, wars and birdsong. A feast for the eyes and ears as the singers fill the magnificent long gallery with sounds of exactly the era of its construction.
Day 5 Saturday 11 July
After a morning lecture in the centre of Tours, the day is largely free until the afternoon performance at the Grand Théâtre. Recommended is the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Housed in the archbishop’s former palace it displays a rich and varied collection, including French painting and sculpture from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The imposing theatre seats more than 900 and is home to the Orchestre Symphonique Région Centre-Val de Loire and the Opéra de Tours, directed by Benjamin Pionnier. Built 1867–72, all except the façade was damaged by fire in 1883 and it was remodelled six years later.
Pre-performance talk, 4.00pm
Grand Théâtre de Tours
Castor et Pollux
Early Opera Company
Christian Curnyn director
Samuel Boden Castor
Jonathan McGovern Pollux
Mary Bevan Phébé
Edward Grint Jupiter
Forgotten for so long but gradually rediscovered in the last century, Rameau’s invention and orchestral textures are a revelation. As tonight’s concert will demonstrate, he also had a natural affinity with the dramatic. We hear an abridged rendering of one of his greatest operas, Castor et Pollux, containing some of his most captivating music.
Dinner is independent, unless you choose to attend an optional dinner.
Day 6 Sunday 12 July
Leave by coach at c. 9.30am and drive to Blois. The three wings of the royal castle were built in the latest fashion respectively for Louis XII from 1498, François I from 1515 and for Gaston d’Orleans, the brother of Louis XIII, from 1635. This last, designed by François Mansart, greatest of French classicists, was not quite finished when the bankers pulled the rug from under the project. The interiors were later finished to simplified designs, and it is in the great hall here that we have a concert.
Château Royal de Blois,
Salle Gaston d’Orléans
Berlioz & Schönberg
Isabelle Druet mezzo-soprano
Mezzo Isabelle Druet has had amazing success in all kinds of repertoire from her interpretation of Carmen to recitals of Lieder and mélodie. Here she is accompanied by members of the ground-breaking French period-instrument orchestra, Les Siècles in Berlioz’s Nuits d’été: the classic French orchestral song-cycle of the 19th century. Appropriately paired is the Transfigured Night of Schoenberg – an Expressionist piece written long before he got into twelve-tone composition.
Afterwards there is free time in the delightful town of Blois for lunch.
Continue by coach in the afternoon to Chambord; an outsize hunting lodge created by François I (r. 1515–1547), it is the most ambitious of the Loire châteaux and startles by its enormous scale and fanciful skyline. Bulbous cylindrical towers, lavish Italianate detailing, a double helix stairway (by Leonardo?) and a fantastical roofscape of cones, wedges, gables and chimney stacks.
The final concert takes place in an oak-panelled hall in the outer range of the courtyard.
Château de Chambord,
Salle des Communs d’Orléans
Ensemble Clément Janequin
Designed expressly for the Château de Chambord, the musical programme here centres on François I. A prodigious patron of the arts, the king initiated many kinds of artistic interchange with Italian musicians and artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, from whom he acquired the Mona Lisa. Both at Chambord and his other château, Fontainebleau, François employed a prestigious team of singers and instrumentalists. The Janequins are tonight joined by four instruments and perform music by composers fostered by François, including Mouton, Longueval and Sermisy.
Return to Tours for a final gala dinner in the Salle des Fêtes within the Hôtel de Ville.
Day 7 Monday 13 July
Coaches take participants to Paris Gare du Nord. Train to London or leave the festival independently.
For travel options, see Practicalities.
Travelling to the venues
For the performances outside Tours, there are drives in comfortable coaches of between 30 minutes and an hour. These are almost entirely by water’s edge or through attractive countryside, with the longer journeys being largely on fast motorways. There are long transfers between Paris and Tours on the first and last days, but the drive includes a comfort break.
Professor Richard Langham Smith
Music historian, broadcaster and writer with a particular interest in early music and 19th- and 20th-century French music. He co-authored the Cambridge Opera Guide on Pelléas et Mélisande and has published widely on Debussy and Bizet. Richard is currently Research Professor at the Royal College of Music. He read Music at York University and the Amsterdam Conservatory. He is currently working on Bizet’s Carmen, preparing both a new edition and a monograph.
The festival package includes:
All nine private concerts.
Accommodation for six nights – choose between four hotels. See below.
Choice of return trains (Eurostar, Standard Premier) between London and Paris (reduced price if you arrange your own). See below.
Breakfasts, four dinners, three lunches, and interval drinks.
All admissions, tips, taxes and obligatory charges.
Travel by comfortable private coach.
The assistance of a team of French-speaking festival staff and a detailed programme booklet.
Talks on the music by Professor Richard Langham Smith.
There is a choice of four hotels in Tours. They differ in size and style, yet none are luxurious. One is rather minimal, others slightly dated – all are comfortable and the best appointed or located in Tours.
Your choice of hotel is the sole determinant of the package price.
All prices below are per person.
Price without trains: subtract £190.
Constructed in 1927, this hotel retains a number of attractive Art Deco features. Situated opposite the central station and less than 300 metres from the town hall, venue for one dinner and concert during the festival, its historic façade has been completely renovated.
Rooms and communal areas are, however, rather tired. We have exclusively reserved higher category rooms to ensure we can offer the best available. There is a bar within the hotel and an oyster bar adjacent, but no restaurant. Good quality eateries are a short walk away.
Prices, per person
Two sharing: Superior double/twin £3,110
Single occupancy: Superior for sole use £3,320
A modern, minimal hotel located adjacent to the train station and 650 metres from the town hall, where both a concert and dinner are held. The modern, grey exterior is not attractive, but all bedrooms, bathrooms and the vast majority of common areas have been entirely renovated in the last two years.
We have reserved just under half of the 105 rooms, which are comfortable and light with pale wood furniture, grey carpets and contemporary décor. Rooms are well sound-proofed. There is bar, restaurant and a small fitness room within the hotel.
Prices, per person
Two sharing: Double/twin £3,320
Single occupancy: Double for sole use £3,590
Built in the 19th century, this hotel is one of the most historic in Tours. Communal areas, especially the lobby, retain many of the traditional features mixed with modern, colourful furnishings. Further facilities include an indoor swimming pool, fitness room, bar and restaurant (though there are others of far superior quality a short walk away and we do not dine here).
We have reserved just over half of the 91 rooms, most of which have been recently refurbished. All have wooden floors and minimal but comfortable décor with red and purple accents. The hotel is located opposite the town hall, which is both a concert and dinner venue during the festival, 700 metres from the cathedral.
Prices, per person
Deluxe double/twin £3,630
Executive double/twin £3,740
Please note there are a limited number of twin rooms at this hotel.
Comfort for sole use £3,910
Superior for sole use £3,940
Part-dating to the 18th century and part modern construction, this hotel is situated a 15-minute drive or a 30-minute walk from the historic centre of Tours. The site formerly housed a vineyard known for its white wines and set in 2.5 hectare grounds.
Facilities include an indoor swimming pool, sauna, bar and a good restaurant. There is also an attractive glass-enclosed terrace and lounge.
We have reserved 15 of the 65 rooms here across the historic building and modern residence. All rooms are comfortable, modern and stylish.
Coach transfers are provided to and from the town centre.
Prices, per person
Double/twin (residence) £3,740
Double/twin (château) £3,960
Please note there are a limited number of twin rooms at this hotel.
Single occupancy: Double for sole use (residence) £4,070
Festival Train Options
7 July: London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord departing at 10.24 and arriving at 13.47.
13 July: Paris Gare du Nord to London St Pancras departing at 15.13 and arriving at 16.39.
7 July: London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord departing at 11.31 and arriving at 14.47.
13 July: Paris Gare du Nord to London St Pancras departing at 16.13 and arriving at 17.39.
All Eurostar travel is in Standard Premier class. Please note that each outbound train is tied to a particular inbound train. You cannot mix trains from different options.
The no-trains option
You can choose not to take either of our train options and to make your own arrangements for joining and leaving the festival. You are welcome to join our coach transfers from Paris Gare du Nord train station should your arrival coincide with the times above.
Price reduction for ‘no trains’: £190.
We are happy to advise on flight and local train timetables once they are confirmed, but you will need to book independently.
The price for the pre-festival tour, Versailles: Seat of the Sun King, includes the option of a return train – out at the start of the tour, and back at the end of the festival. All pre-festival tour participants return to the UK on festival option 1. We charge for trains, if you are taking them, as part of your pre-festival tour booking. You therefore pay the ‘no-trains’ price for the festival. Please phone the MRT office for preliminary information.
Combining with Music Along the Rhine
It is possible to combine this festival with another of our festivals, Music Along the Rhine (30 June–7 July 2020).
We can book the following train journey between the two for £140. The price includes a transfer from the high-speed train station to the centre of Tours – transport between stations in Paris is not included (but is possible by metro or taxi).
Tuesday 7 July 2020
Train 1: 10.34–13.37
Basel to Paris Gare de Lyon
Transfer independently between Paris stations.
Journey time c. 30 minutes. Most connections in Paris are very tight so we have allowed some free time in between trains.
Train 2: 16.30–17.47
TGV Paris Montparnasse to
To book this combination, please contact us.
Fitness for the festival
Quite a lot of walking is necessary to reach some concert venues and to get around the towns we visit. Most of the concert venues do not have a lift. You need to be averagely fit, sure-footed and able to manage everyday walking and stairclimbing without difficulty.
We ask that you take the simple fitness tests on the booking form before booking.
If you have a medical condition or a disability which may affect your holiday or necessitate special arrangements being made for you, please discuss these with us before booking – or, if the condition develops or changes subsequently, as soon as possible before departure.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.